Winning The Battle Against Beetles

The summer of 2007 was marked by a dramatic increase in the presence of Japanese beetles across the nation. Although devastating to plants and gardens, the Japanese beetle is rarely more than a nuisance to human beings. However, there are two species, powderpost and merchant grain beetles that emerge in summer and can pose significant threats to health and property.

"Beetles are not commonly considered a threat to one's health or home," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Yet, beetles, such as the powderpost and merchant grain, can cause damage to homes and can contaminate food. Homeowners should take proactive steps to pest-proof their property to keep beetles outside."

A reddish-brown pest, which lays eggs in the cracks of wood, such as baseboards and floors, powderpost beetles can affect a home's structural dependability. Second only to termites in their destruction of wood and rarely observed, powderposts are named for the powder-like dust left behind by their larvae as they tunnel through wood surfaces.

The merchant grain beetle is brown, flat and can fly. These beetles like fat-based products and will readily infest chocolate, cereal, cake mixes and even dried pet food. These pests seek out these foods' packaging as a place to live, eat and reproduce. Often found in pantries and kitchens, merchant grain beetles contaminate food.

NPMA offers these tips to help homeowners prevent merchant grain beetle infestations:

  • Inspect all susceptible products when you bring them home from the store.
  • Keep all products in sealed plastic tubs when stored in your pantry.
  • Keep an eye on any grain-based products when you use them looking for small worm like larvae or even adult beetles. Segregate and destroy any infested product.

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